Government leaders must prioritize human rights, and I was proud to take that message to the leaders of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico this week in Ottawa. I joined the heads of Amnesty International sections from Canada and Mexico in meeting with senior officials in all three governments in advance of an annual summit of the three countries’ leaders.
On behalf of 2 million Amnesty International supporters in Mexico, Canada, and the United States, we’re calling on the three countries’ leaders to make concrete commitments to protecting human rights. In particular, we’re urging them to do more to protect refugees—and to immediately end the detention of immigrant children. Nearly half of the world’s forcibly displaced people are children. Since the beginning of 2016, more than 39,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras have arrived at the U.S. border without parents or other adults. In many cases, these children are being put into prisons in the U.S., without access to any assistance or even translators, and then deported weeks or months later—sent back into the extremely dangerous conditions they were fleeing.
We’re fighting to protect those children—and to protect the rights of all refugees and migrants. Hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International supporters are demanding that government leaders do more, while we’re also engaging in direct advocacy with key decision-makers. We won’t stop until every person’s human rights are fully protected.Please take action to join us.
ORLANDO, SOLIDARITY AND ACTION
During this month, Pride month, we witnessed the horrific mass shooting in Orlando—where 49 people, many of them LGBT people and people of color, were killed in a place they came to find community and joy.
The world responded with incredible solidarity, but meanwhile Congress failed to pass legislative measures to prevent the growing human rights crisis of gun violence. Instead, they introduced a wave of legislation playing on fear and prejudice toward Muslims.
We stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors in Orlando. We are committed to helping end gun violence in this country and to combatting anti-Muslim hate and bigotry in all its forms.
WHAT DOES THE AMERICA YOU BELIEVE IN LOOK LIKE?
With a climate of fear and hate sweeping the United Sates, it’s time to take a stand.
Together, we’re rejecting anti-refugee legislation, harassment of American Muslims, and calls to respond to terrorism by committing torture and war crimes.
Don’t let fear win. Participate in our photo action to show what the America you believe in looks like.
Sham, pictured here, is a six-year old girl from Syria who fled to Europe in a rubber boat after bombs destroyed her home.
Amnesty International crisis investigators met her and her family when they were trapped in a ferry terminal in Greece after European governments closed their borders to refugees fleeing the violence in Syria. She was sleeping on the floor.
Help us surpass our $200,000 June goal to advocate on behalf of refugees like Sham and her family. Donate now.
BLOCK THE BOMBS FROM THE U.S. TO SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia has committed gross and systemic violations of human rights abroad and at home, and used its position on the UN Human Rights Council to effectively obstruct accountability for possible war crimes.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch this week are calling on the United Nations to suspend Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council. We also need to make sure that no more US bombs are delivered to Saudi Arabia and used in human rights violations.
AIUSA’s 2016 Regional Conferences are set to take place in October and November, and they will be an incredible opportunity to hear from inspiring speakers, network with other activists, learn about the most pressing human rights issues of our time, develop your organizing skills, and shape AIUSA policy. We’ll have information soon on agendas, speakers, and more, but you can check out dates and locations on the regional conferences website.
If you’re a member and want to present at one of the conferences, don’t forget tosubmit your proposal for each conference by July 15.
TAKE ACTION FOR LEONARD PELTIER
Leonard Peltier is 71 years old now, and he has served 40 years in prison in a case that has long raised troubling questions—including from the judge who heard his appeal. He has an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and his health is deteriorating rapidly. If properly treated, Leonard could make a full recovery, but if the aneurysm ruptures, he has roughly a 10% chance of survival.
Amnesty International staff recently visited Leonard in federal prison in Florida, and he told us: “If I don’t get clemency, I’m going to die here—and not from old age.”
It’s time to bring him home to his family. Take Action.
Last week was the 95th memorial anniversary of white folks’ bloodthirsty murder of 300 Black men, women, and children and also white folks’ wholesale destruction of 1,000 Black-owned businesses and homes on “Black Wall Street” in the Greenwood community of Tulsa, OK from May 31-June 1, 1921. Although I could justifiably rail against this destructive white devilment, I’ll instead praise this instructive Black economic independence.
When Blacks today moan and groan and whine and complain and sue because whites won’t hire or promote us, I simply shake my head in disgust. And then I wonder why we expect anything good from the very same people who yesterday kidnapped us, sold us, bought us, enslaved us, raped us, lynched us and who today use their police departments to murder us, their judges to treat us like Dred Scott, and their prison officials/politicians/corporations to impose their new Jim Crow.
White corporations and employers, generally speaking, don’t like us and don’t want us. They never did and never will. That’s why there are only five Black CEOs in the Fortune 500 and only two in the elite Dow 30. We must “do for self” like our “Black Wall Street” ancestors did nearly 100 years ago. And we can, as proven by the fact that Black-owned businesses currently show a growth rate three times the national (i.e., white) average. If our ancestors could succeed back then- and they did- we damn sure can now.
That 1921 rampage was born out of a 1916 Tulsa ordinance that banned Blacks from living on any block on which whites constituted at least 75 percent of the residents. So did the Blacks moan, groan, whine, complain, or sue? Hell no! They “did for self” by unifying economically and culturally. As a result, they created a community consisting of a multitude of separate Black-owned, Black-operated, and Black-patronized businesses- including (but not limited to) law firms, hospitals, newspapers, hotels, schools, restaurants, construction companies, real estate offices, and 24 supermarkets! As so insightfully stated by professor, author, and attorney Dr. Hannibal B. Johnson, “Legal segregation (in Tulsa and throughout the nation) limited the commercial options of African-Americans. This economic detour- this diversion of dollars- spurred business development and economic prosperity in the Black community. A talented cadre of African-American businesspersons and entrepreneurs rose up.
The problem is not that we don’t have the money to “do for self.” We got money! We have more than 35,000 Black millionaires in this country and a whopping 1,826 billionaires in the world. We also have earnings of $1.3 trillion annually in America. The problem is that, unlike other ethnic groups, we spend it with outsiders as soon as we get it. For example, a dollar remains in the Asian community for 28 consecutive days but only six hours in the Black community. Outrageous and embarrassing!
To paraphrase the classic line from the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and the 1974 film Blazing Saddles, “Jobs? We don’t need your stinkin’ jobs!” We can do our own thing. But, in regard to government employment, don’t get it twisted. Although we don’t need white folks’ municipal, state, or federal jobs, those jobs are owed to us because we built this country and because we continue to be denied high salary and top-level positions despite our unimpeachable qualifications. For example, in Mayor Jim Kenney’s first couple of weeks in office, he appointed about 80 top officials, 66 percent of whom are white in a city that’s only 36 percent white. However, despite the fact that African-Americans make up 44 percent of Philly’s population, only 22 percent of his appointees are African-Americans. Former Mayor Michael Nutter was nearly as racially insensitive at best or racially discriminatory at worst with 64 percent of city employees who received salaries in excess of $70,000 being- you guessed it- white.
As reported this week by Eric Ture Muhammad in The Final Call, the preeminent S.B. Fuller & Joe L. Dudley Sr. Foundation held a “Mastermind Business Group Meeting” on May 26 at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem, NC as a gathering dedicated to Black entrepreneurship. It brought together business leaders from all across the country and emphasized the critical importance of creating a “collaborative economic framework” for community wealth rather than focusing primarily on personal wealth.
A number of the event’s presenters, including networking mogul Dr. George Fraser, spoke about the Black community having foolishly adhered to an “economic welcome mat” policy that “allows anyone who isn’t Black easy access to Black dollars and consumers.” They pointed out that “anyone else can walk in, meet some community needs, wipe their feet on Black consumers like a doormat, and exit with tens of millions of dollars put in banks outside the community.”
We must economically “rise up” as Dr. Johnson mentioned. And we can do it by creating Black-owned businesses and/or by buying exclusively from the more than two million Black-owned businesses (or the many predominantly Black-employed businesses) at least once a week starting this week, then at least twice a week next week, then at least one week next month, and eventually at least six months every year.
We can do it by following the lead of the 15 young Black businessmen from the Black Male Entrepreneurship Institute (BMEI), which partners with the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC). BMEI did it last year when they sought out a Black financial institution and found Industrial Bank in Washington, DC where they made an initial deposit of $5,000. As stated by Ron Busby, CEO of USBC, “In order for there to be a strong Black America, we must have strong Black businesses. In order to have strong Black businesses, we must have strong Black banks.”
So let’s do the Black bank thing and the Black business thing- which means the Black power thing.
The words from David Walker’s Appeal, written in 1829, and the words of Christopher James Perry Sr., founder of the Tribune in 1884, are the inspiration for my “Freedman’s Journal” columns. In order to honor that pivotal nationalist abolitionist and that pioneering newspaper giant, as well as to inspire today’s Tribune readers, each column ends with Walker and Perry’s combined quote- along with my inserted voice- as follows: I ask all Blacks “to procure a copy of this… (weekly column) for it is designed… particularly for them” so they can “make progress… against (racist) injustice.”
Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD900AM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCAM/Verizon/Comcast.
Stand as one with people forced to flee conflict and disaster
Today, June 20th is World Refugee Day.
I’m not an expert on the refugee crisis, but I am just like you – a human, a woman, a mother, a daughter, and a friend. When I learned that there are more refugees living in the world today than at any other point in history, and half of them are children, it totally took my breath away! It left me to wonder what if this was me? My sons? My family? My life?
I want you to imagine if you were a refugee if you were the one torn from the arms of your families and loved ones….one of 60 million people displaced with nowhere to call home. What would you do? How would you feel?
These are the questions my new film,Let Me In, seeks to answer. We’ve partnered with Care, Oxfam, and War Child, on a campaign to raise awareness and reinvigorate the conversation around the global refugee crisis.
The film is set to my new song “Hallelujah,” and reimagines the refugee crisis on America’s shores, displacing thousands in the Los Angeles area who must seek safety by crossing the border into Mexico.
Sadly, some seek to fan the flames of division and turn us against our fellow neighbors, but We Are Here to make the case for love and compassion.
Please take a few minutes to watch the filmand think about what millions of families are going through around the world. These are people just like us, with families and careers and dreams. Let’s tell them we’re standing with them.
Today is International Albinism Awareness Day, and Amnesty International just released a report that shows at least 69 crimes against people with albinism have been documented since November 2014.
Amnesty International and other organizations on the ground are calling on the government of Malawi to adopt measures protecting the rights to life and security of people with albinism by providing increased levels of visible policing in rural districts and taking action when attacks occur.